National Cancer Moonshot Initiative

Even before the announcement of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the AACR provided thought leadership to the White House on the current state of cancer research, on ways to make more therapies available to more patients, and on the importance of cancer prevention and detection. Since the launch of Vice President Biden's "national commitment to end cancer as we know it," AACR members and leaders have worked to shape and realize the vice president's vision.

Funding Approved for the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot”

Funding for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative was secured Dec. 7, when the U.S Senate approved the 21st Century Cures Act. President Obama signed the Act into law at 3 p.m. ET, Dec. 13, in a ceremony attended by AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc). The legislation establishes an NIH Innovation Account that includes $1.8 billion in supplemental funding over seven years to fund Moonshot projects and initiatives. The first installment of $300 million from 21st Century Cures has been provided as part of the fiscal year 2017 continuing resolution. An amendment to the legislation prior to Senate approval renamed the cancer portion of the law the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot in honor of the vice president’s son, who passed away from brain cancer in May 2015.

Timeline: AACR's Leadership in the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative

  • January 8, 2016: AACR leaders meet with the vice president's senior staff.

  • January 12: President Obama announces a national "moonshot" initiative to eliminate cancer during this State of the Union Address.

  • Jan. 19: Vice President Biden invites AACR leaders to participate in a special session on the new initiative at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

  • Apr. 4: Twenty AACR members are named to the NCI's Blue Ribbon Panel to guide the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

  • Apr. 20: Vice President Biden addresses the AACR Annual Meeting 2016.

  • June 9: AACR President Nancy E. Davidson, MD, moderates a special session for AACR leaders with members of the NCI Blue Ribbon Panel.

  • June 28: The AACR hosts a congressional briefing to inform lawmakers about the progress of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

  • June 29: AACR leaders participate in a Cancer Moonshot Summit hosted by the White House.

  • Sept. 7: The Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel releases its report at the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) Meeting.

  • Oct. 17: Vice President Biden delivers the Cancer Moonshot report to the president and the American public.

  • Dec. 13: President Obama signs the 21st Century Cures Act, establishing funding for initiatives from the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot.

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AACR Leaders Meet with Vice President's Senior Staff. On Jan. 8, a group of 15 AACR members, led by President José Baselga, MD, PhD, and comprising a number of AACR board members, and other AACR leaders from nine states and 10 of the top cancer centers and medical institutions in the U.S., met with Vice President Biden’s senior staff to discuss the state of cancer research, as well as Vice President Biden’s commitment to a national initiative to eliminate cancer.

President Obama Announces Cancer Moonshot Initiative. During his State of the Union Address Jan. 12, President Obama announced the launch of a "new national effort" to eliminate cancer. He announced that the initiative would be led by Vice President Joe Biden.
[Read the news release]

Cancer Moonshot: A Call to Action. Vice President Biden convened a special session Jan. 19 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Titled "Cancer Moonshot: A Call to Action," the session brought together international leaders in the cancer community to discuss opportunities to advance the pace of progress in the fight against cancer. The panel discussion, moderated by NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, featured the current president of the AACR and two AACR past presidents: José Baselga, MD, PhD; Charles L. Sawyers, MD; and Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD. Vice President Biden highlighted the importance of data-sharing initiatives and cited AACR Project GENIE during his opening remarks at the session.
[View the session webcast  |  Read the news release]

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Blue Ribbon Panel. On April 4, the NCI announced the members of a Blue Ribbon Panel that will inform the scientific direction and goals under Vice President Joe Biden's national cancer initiative. The panel was established as a working group of the presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board to provide scientific guidance from thought leaders in the cancer community. The 28-member panel included 20 members of the AACR, including two past presidents, three fellows of the AACR Academy, and three members of the board of directors. One of the first meetings of the Blue Ribbon Panel was held at the AACR Annual Meeting 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
[Read the news release]

Vice President Biden Addresses AACR Annual Meeting. On April 20, Vice President Biden addressed nearly 4,000 attendees during the AACR Annual Meeting 2016 to thank the cancer research community for devoting their lives to cancer research and to encourage them to share their ideas to more quickly accelerate progress against cancer. Biden talked about the importance of removing barriers, fostering collaboration, and re-aligning incentives in cancer research to better serve patients.
[Read the news release  |  View the webcast  |  Read the transcript]

Providing Guidance to the Blue Ribbon Panel. AACR President Nancy E. Davidson, MD, moderated a special session June 9 that connected AACR leaders—including young and early-stage investigators and minority researchers—with members of the NCI Blue Ribbon Panel. The goal of the session was to inform the NCI’s scientific direction to achieve the goals of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.
[Read the news release]

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Congressional Briefing. To ensure that lawmakers remain informed about the progress of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the AACR hosted a congressional briefing June 28 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Titled "Seizing Today's Opportunities to Accelerate Cancer Research," the briefing featured remarks by AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), AACR President Nancy Davidson, MD, and NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy, MD. The briefing also featured a panel discussion in which five early-career investigators discussed ways to achieve the Cancer Moonshot's goal of accomplishing a decade's worth of progress in five years.
[View the Facebook Live broadcast  |  View Patient Power's video coverage]

Cancer Moonshot Summit. AACR President Nancy E. Davidson, MD (right), and Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), participated in the Cancer Moonshot Summit held June 29 at the White House. During the summit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would establish an Oncology Center of Excellence (OCE) and appointed Richard Pazdur, MD, as its acting director. Drs. Davidson and Foti led the AACR membership in applauding the announcement and in calling for the FDA to appoint Dr. Pazdur as the OCE's permanent director.
[Read the news release  |  View Patient Power interview with Dr. Davidson]

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Blue Ribbon Panel Report Released. The Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel released its report during the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) Meeting Sept. 7. The report outlined 10 programs and initiatives "that are poised for acceleration and that could unleash new cancer breakthroughs if implemented." The AACR expressed its support for the report's recommendations called on Congress and the administration to begin the work of finding a path forward for securing the funding necessary to support these significant scientific opportunities.
[Read the news release  |  Read the report]

President Obama Receives Moonshot Report. Vice President Joe Biden delivered the Cancer Moonshot report to President Obama in the Oval Office and presented it to the American public Oct. 17. The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden also addressed individuals representing the Federal and private sector cancer communities at the White House, many of whom contributed new efforts to advance progress toward Cancer Moonshot goals. CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc) (right), represented the AACR's members and leadership at the event.
[Read the report]

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